Philadelphia Flyers (2-4-0--4pts)
Washington Capitals (1-5-1--3pts)
TV: CSN - RADIO: 97.5 The Fanatic
1. ABOUT THE MATCH-UP
The Flyers owned the season series last year, going 3-1-0 against the Caps with Ilya Bryzgalov winning all three games and posting an overall 1.72 GAA and .944 save percentage in four appearances… Six of the last eight matchups between the two clubs have been decided by one goal while five of those six games have required overtime or a shootout… The Flyers come into tonight's game coming off a two-day break from game action, while the Caps played last night on the road in Toronto, a 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs… Both the Caps and Flyers have lost two straight games… Braden Holtby has compiled a 1-0-1 record with a 1.44 GAA and a .943 save percentage in two games against the Flyers, including his first career NHL start on Nov. 7, 2010, at Verizon Center… The Flyers own a 100-66-19-6 record in 191 games against Washington 41-36-13-4 in 94 games in DC.
2. ENDING ON A GOOD NOTE
The Flyers end their four-game road trip tonight… They are currently 1-2-0 on the road swing… Tonight's game marks the eighth game of the season and sixth game on the road… Ilya Bryzgalov currently has a 1.50 GAA and .949 save percentage on the road trip, stopping 56 of 59 shots… Wayne Simmonds has two points (1g-1a) and is a +1 so far on the road trip…
3. THIS & THAT
Tonight is the third game against a Southeast Division opponent for the Flyers, who play their next five games against the SE Division and seven of their first 12 games of the season… Both the Flyers wins have come when they've scored the first goal of the game… The Flyers have given up the fewest goals-against (6) when playing 5-on-5 in the NHL (tied with St. Louis & Ottawa)… Caps D-man Mike Green has skated an average of 27:11 per game this season (6th in the NHL) and has led the Capitals in TOI in each of the team’s first seven games… The last four games played by the Capitals have been decided by a 3-2 score.
4. Player to watch FLYERS: Claude Giroux
The Flyers captain has gone two straight games without recording a point, which usually means he's due for a big game… He went three-straight games without a point only twice last year and four times in the last two years, a span of 136 games… Giroux had two goals in three games of the season series agains the Caps last season and lifetime has six goals and eight points in 13 career games against Washington.
5. Player to watch CAPITALS: Mike Ribeiro
Ribeiro leads the Washington Capitals in scoring with eight points… He is averaging over a point-per-game so far, posting seven assists and eight points in seven games in his first season with Washington… Ribeiro doesn't have great numbers against the Flyers however - five goals and nine points in 21 regular season games.
"I really believe with the team that we have, [when] we play the way we're capable, we play with the same intensity that we played with in the third period against the Rangers things are going to be fine. That I know, but we have to make it happen on the ice."
While the Philadelphia Flyers haven't been able to generate much offense, coach Peter Laviolette is hoping a tweak to his top line will help do the trick.
The Eastern Conference-worst Washington Capitals could surely use some change.
Hoping to avoid a third consecutive loss, the Flyers conclude a four-game road trip Friday night seeking a fourth straight win over the Capitals.
After following up an 0-3-0 start with back-to-back wins, Philadelphia's woes resumed in its last two games. The Flyers (2-5-0) couldn't keep up in Sunday's 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay, then suffered a 2-1 defeat to the New York Rangers two nights later.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 26 saves, dropping to 2-4-0 despite a 2.19 goals-against average. Kimmo Timonen, meanwhile, provided the team's lone goal, scoring 7:09 into the third period as Philadelphia scored one or less for the fourth time in seven games.
The power play hasn't been much help to the struggling offense, converting 5 of 37 overall and 2 of 27 during the losses.
"It's like a pitcher who goes out on the mound and doesn't get the run support he needs to win a game," Laviolette told the team's official website. "I feel like there are some areas we can be better in that can help our team be more successful."
Danny Briere's move to the top line could help the Flyers do just that. Laviolette made the change after Briere, who matched a regular-season career high with 10 shots Tuesday, impressed while skating alongside Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds in the third period.
"It's a nice compliment," Laviolette said of putting Briere and Giroux together. "One guy sees the ice really well and the other knows how to put the puck in the net. I think a lot of players want to play with Claude because of how he sees the ice and makes plays, then you have a natural goal scorer in Danny … it could be a good fit."
While the Flyers are optimistic about getting things turned around, frustrations are likely starting to take their toll on the Capitals (1-5-1), who blew two one-goal leads Thursday in a 3-2 loss at Toronto. Joel Ward and Alex Ovechkin both scored but Washington was outshot 40-22.
"It was the early penalties that cost us," said coach Adam Oates, whose team killed seven of eight penalties. "You spend so much energy killing penalties, you lose some of your juice later in the game."
Michal Neuvirth made 37 saves Thursday, falling to 1-3-1 with a 2.98 GAA. He's 1-1-1 with a 2.88 GAA lifetime versus Philadelphia.
Braden Holtby is 1-0-1 with a 1.43 GAA in two career matchups against the Flyers.
Bryzgalov has allowed a combined two goals while starting each of the last three games in this series, including a 34-save shutout during Philadelphia's most recent visit to Washington on March 4.
The Flyers are 5-1-1 in their last seven matchups against the Capitals, but four of those wins have come by one goal.
Veteran forward Mike Knuble, who signed with Philadelphia last week after spending the previous three seasons with Washington, has one assist in three games since debuting Saturday.
Ovechkin has 23 goals and 15 assists in 26 career contests against the Flyers. Giroux has scored in five of his last meetings with the Capitals, adding one assist.
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